Health: Sunscreen 101: New Label Changes

stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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by Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Sunscreen labels are changing, which has caused confusion for many. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is here to sort it out for you.

The FDA has mandated label changes for sunscreens to clear up the confusion, but that’s still being rolled out. Most doctors say you should wear an SPF 30 or higher.

“It’s really important how much sunscreen you put on because you’re only going to get the protection factor if you actually put on enough. And enough is about a shot glass,” said Dr. Naomi Lawrence, a Dermatologic Surgeon at Cooper University Hospital. She says anything less doesn’t offer enough protection against the suns harmful UVA and UVB rays.

“We know now that both UVA and UVB are important in the development of skin cancer, skin aging and just general photo damage, and so we really want to block them both,” said Dr. Lawrence.

The FDA has sunscreen manufacturers rolling out new labels this year. Only sunscreens with both UVA and UVB protection and SPF higher than 15, can say “broad spectrum” on the bottle.

Goodbye to the claims like sweat proof and water proof; experts say there’s no such thing. Now labels will read water resistant, with a period of time indicating how long it will protect you.

“I think anything that makes it simpler is better,” said Dr. Lawrence.

Dr. Lawrence says spray sunscreen can be equally effective as cream, but only if enough is applied, which isn’t typical.

“I actually like to use them for reapplication rather than initial application,” said Dr. Lawrence.

Doctors say two ingredients that offer the best protection are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

The label change deadline has been extended until the end of the year for manufacturers, so at this point you’ll be seeing both old and new labels on store shelves.

For more information visit: www.fda.gov

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